Sometimes the player you take comes with some baggage. Sometimes that baggage is a full ball and chain. And sometimes, that extra weight can even work to your advantage. All in all a two for one is only good is you know what you're getting into to.
If you're looking for a Maurice Clarett story, look elsewhere.
While mugshots and Miranda Rights aren't up the alley of today's topic, I can assure you the NFL and handcuffs in the same sentence is never a good thing, even if it doesn't involve holding numbers across your chest.
What I speak of is the dreaded term that any veteran fantasy football player probably knows all too well - the handcuff. The handcuff, for the uninitiated, is essentially a player, most often a backup, who seriously threatens to cut into the playing time, or all together replace, another player of the same position on the same team. But then again, you probably knew that. I'm just looking out for the rookies who are reading this to learn something, and aren't just in it for my trademark wit.
Handcuffs, while generally regarded as situations to avoid, some times are inescapable evils. Take the Chiefs last season. As a Priest Holmes owner in a keeper league, I was in a situation where I had to stick with Holmes, while also trying to handcuff Larry Johnson. To my dismay, another owner took LJ in the sixth round, three picks before I was poised to snatch him up. I've been trying to get over the agony ever since.
And in the case of certain "known to produce" players or teams, most people would rather risk it then avoid the situation all together, such as Reggie Bush in New Orleans, or the patented zone blocking scheme in Denver that pumps out 1,000 yard rushers like Michael Bay pumps out bad movies. In these cases, there's no need to fear, so long as you know who to grab, and more importantly when to grab them, you'll be okay.
So in this article I'll be breaking down some of the more interesting, and important, handcuff situations in the NFL this season. You have the right to remain informed, you have the right to take notes.
Deuce McAllister & Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints
Probably the most high profile and talent laden handcuff situation in the league, the Reggie and Deuce drama is a high risk/high reward situation that is too promising to avoid, but risky enough to make you chew your fingernails into a bloody pulp.
The obvious lean for most observers is towards the latest Heisman winner, Reggie Bush. People's eyes still go all stary and glaze over when this guy takes the field, and I don't blame them. But we have to remember, the glory of his NCAA days don't mean diddley shit to All-Pro linebackers and safeties who would like nothing more than to introduce Bush to Monday Night Countdown's "Jacked Up" segment. Additionally, with Deuce having missed most of last season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, people have either forgotten about, or are generally disregarding the three consecutive 1,000 yard plus seasons McAllister had put together previous to his injury.
This is easily the most difficult handcuff situation to manage because, Reggie Bush is likely to go higher in fantasy drafts then McAllister, despite being the backup. Some project Bush as high as a 2nd round pick in a ten team league, while Deuce falls anywhere between rounds 3-6. My best recommendation is if you're going to throw your hat into the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, take him early in the second round as your second RB, take some WRs in rounds 3 and 4, then depending on how RBs are being taken, see if you can take McAllister in round 5, or take a QB and put off on Deuce till 6. Once you've drafted (or if you already have), it should go without saying that you don't trade one without moving the other, or vice versa for the receiving end of a trade. At some point, yes, one will be the clear go-to guy for this season, but if that's Reggie Bush it won't be until later in the season, so this is something you'll just have to smart and patient about.
Mike Bell & Tatum Bell, Denver Broncos
At this point you may be asking about Ron Dayne. Don't. While some experts would like to paint this as a trio, it isn't. Ron Dayne is good enough to sneak in the conversation, but not stay in it, that's why I'm getting in his obligatory mention now.
This is a two horse race (I couldn't resist the horse thing, okay) - Bell vs. Bell. And while most handcuff situations demand a wait and see approach, I'm ready to call a winner right now. Tatum Bell, simple as pie. No slight intended towards Mike Bell, and for as hard as I laughed when I heard Tatum had been bumped off the top of the Denver RB depth chart, I got thoroughly shup up when I saw Mike Bell run against the Titans in a recent preseason game. The kid can run. He's deliberate and hits the holes hard. He, unlike another aforementioned Denver back, deserves some exposition in this discussion. Be that as it may, having seen what I saw from Tatum Bell last season, as a backup no less, I can't bring myself to say he isn't the clear starter for this Broncos team. Tatum has a second gear that maybe only a few other RBs in the entire NFL can boast, and his 5.3 yards a carry were second in the league last season only to one Michael Vick. That and the eight touchdowns he managed in a somewhat limited role (while losing goalline carries to Dayne) should be more than enough reason to hand him the keys to Denver's running game.
Mike Bell is likely to be taken first in most leagues; expect him to go somewhere around round 3. But mark my words, Tatum is the guy. I estimate he'll be taking the bulk of the carries by week 3 or 4. As crazy as it sounds, I'm so confident in this fact I wouldn't even be too dismayed at taking Tatum and only Tatum in my draft, I wouldn't recommend it, but I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it either. My recommendation: take them both, watch Mike Bell do some nice things in the first couple weeks, then sell high in a trade on Mike, and go with Tatum for the rest of the year.
DeShaun Foster & DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
You can never be too sure with two guys who both have the third letter of their name capitalized, that has to be some sort of bad omen.
While both of these backs have the potential to be good, neither of them has the potential to be great this year. That puts you and me in an interesting predicament. I'm tempted to say avoid both of them all together, but DeAngelo Williams is surprisingly underrated and Foster is a few bad games from losing his starting position, for that reason, and that reason only, I take the time to mention them.
In college Williams put up some gaudy numbers, topping 1,900 yards in each of his last two seasons at Memphis. Now that may not mean much, but just to be fair, if we're gonna get all giddy about Reggie Bush because of what he did in college, then lets be consistent. And if you insist on examples of professional level performances, then look no further. While it is preseason, that's all we've got to go on so far, and so far, DeAngelo is looking good. In a game against Miami on Thursday, Williams returned a kickoff 98 yards for a TD, and also rushed for 41 yards on nine carries. "He's got good bursts, good acceleration, excellent vision and he's got a second gear you as you saw when he popped through on that kickoff," coach John Fox said after the game.
In keeper league, I'd be even more excited about Williams, and advise taking him a little earlier than you would in redraft leagues. Speaking purely for this season, however, I'd say neither Foster nor Williams is a reason to use a high draft pick. Nevertheless, I recommend taking advantage of their lower draft value and take them as third and fourth runningbacks on your team. No matter what happens, be it Foster having a decent year or losing his job to Williams, you should be happy with them rounding out your RB core.
Julius Jones & Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys
I bet you weren't expecting this one.
While the national media talk surrounding Dallas circles around TO and the supposed (read: fabricated) quarterback controversy, if you're a fantasy owner who's planning on taking (or already has taken) Julius Jones, you should be more concerned with the RB situation.
The three games Julius Jones missed last season, are the games in which Marion Barber made his mark, including a 127 yard, 2 TD outburst against the Cardinals that had some Dallas fans wondering if the wrong guy had been starting. Granted speculation is small, but it's valid nonetheless. Barber is a quick speedy back who cuts hard and has a good nose around the endzone. Last season Barber managed 538 yards and 5 TDs on only 138 carries, as oppose to Jones's 993 and 5 TDs on 257 carries.
The real reason for concern comes in Jones's tendency to get hurt. Even during his years at Norte Dame, Jones gained a reputation as being a little on the fragile side, and last season that seemed to prove true. If Jones gets hurt and can't play, or his performance is hampered in any way by injury, then that will be a big opportunity for Barber to step in.
For drafts, Jones falls somewhere in that 3-5 round range, so if you plan on taking him, you may not have to go too early unless RBs are going quick. Barber will likely go undrafted in most fantasy leagues, only because he isn't a well known name and his stand alone value as a backup isn't much. But if Jones goes down, he could be a nice guy to have, especially in leagues that start three RBs, or start a flex position. My recommendation: take Jones as your second or third RB, then scoop Barber up off the waiver wire soon after the draft.
Situations to avoid:
Greenbay Packers: Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, and Sam Gado.
San Francisco 49ers: Frank Gore and anyone else
New York Jets: Everyone
Originally posted on Talking Apes